Session Prep Guide

June 29, 2022

Here’s a quick guide in how to best prepare for your portrait session! Use the quick navigation guide below to jump through sections quicker.

  1. Outfit Choice
  2. Hair & Make-up
  3. Props
  4. Invited Guests
  5. Day of Session
  6. Post Session


Whether you have one outfit or multiple, what you decide to wear for your session is one of the most important decisions other than location(s). What you decide to wear can easily make or break your session. Ultimately your outfit should reflect you! Follow these tips to help you make the most of choosing what to wear!

  1. Wear something that makes you comfortable and feel confident!
  2. Choose colors that compliment your skin tone/undertone. If doing a family or group session, you should be COLOR COMPLIMENTARY, not 100% matching. This will help create a visual cohesiveness, but also allow for individuals to showcase who they are. You can pick a color scheme with a central person in the brightest color to stand out. If you need advice, I’ll be happy to help.
  3. Something flowy with movement, a button down, a suite jacket, or denim jacket will photograph nicely. Keep in mind how it fits! The better it fits, the better it will look on camera!
  4. No loud patterns or neon colors. Especially vertical lines. Often these things don’t flatter nor photograph well. BUT if you absolutely must, pick one item and it the statement piece and minimal accessories.
  5. ACCESSORIZE! Add jewelry to make an outfit pop or compliment the look. Choose items that you wear regularly or that hold a special meaning for you. These little details can easily add to your session.
  6. This is your sign to WEAR THE SHOES. If they are sitting/ briefly standing only shoes… wear them! If they look great with your outfit, then absolutely rock them! You can always bring comfy shoes to walk in or put on for in between shots.
  7. Be as dressed up or casual as you want! Most, if doing one outfit will choose to be semi-formal and if doing 2 outfits, will do a semi-formal look and then a casual look. Whether doing one look or two, make sure if a feel good outfit!

Things to Remember:


  • Wear proper undergarments – in size and color. Be mindful of their fit & how they make the outfit look
  • Iron/de-wrinkle pieces prior to the session.
  • Pick pieces that are easy to move in
  • If getting something new, give yourself time to wear it a few times before your session
  • Set out everything you need for the outfit the night before the session
  • Make sure to clean all outfit pieces + shoes prior to the session
  • Keep in mind the season/time of day for your session. Prepare accordingly


  • Wear something for the first time for the session
  • Pick pieces that are hard to get in and out of if doing a wardrobe change.Remember most locations will only have a public restroom and not a dedicated changing area
  • Wear something because someone else told you too


Hair styles can easily elevate or look and sometimes contribute greatly to how we feel! Don’t overlook this detail! Spend time to think about what style/cut you want for your session- make sure it flatters your face + your personality.

Make-up, not a requirement to wear, but can also be used elevate or enhance your look. Be sure you use it to highlight a facial feature you love, like your eyes or your smile.

If budget allows, invest in getting hair and makeup done professionally before the session.

Things to remember:


  • Bring hairspray, extra bobby pins, hair ties are necessary
  • Make sure you love the style for that day
  • Get any hair touch-ups prior to session
  • Get hair/ facial hair professional cut/styled if budget allows
  • Wear a makeup look you normally would wear.
  • Be sure to blend out to your neck and shoulders as your outfit requires, if doing your own makeup
  • Clean glasses before the session. If wearing contacts, don’t forget eyedrops just in case!
  • Practice good health and personal hygiene leading up to the session. Drink plenty of water and get good sleep. Eating right days before the session will help your skin look and feel good!


  • Try a new cut or color for the session -there’s a chance you might not love it come session day
  • Show up to the session with wet hair
  • Choose a style you have to keep messing with throughout the day
  • Choose a new brand of makeup products to try before your session
  • Cake on makeup product. Sometimes less is more.


Using props during your session will add that personal element to your session. Anything that helped you through school, is a hobby/passion, or an emotionally valuable item can be used as a prop. The options are limitless.

Some examples:

  • Laptop
  • Gaming controllers
  • Favorite snacks
  • blanket
  • coffee mug
  • drinks (alcoholic or non-alcoholic)
  • college/program acceptance letter
  • military apparel
  • a stuffed animal
  • vinyals
  • your car/truck
  • Favorite subject textbooks
  • Letterman
  • A picture of you and a special person
  • A gift you received from a family member/friend that means something
  • An inspirational quote
  • Pom poms
  • Jersey
  • A ball
  • Trophies/medals
  • etc

Things to remember


  • Include a prop or two.
  • Make sure it reflects you/your personality and/or means something to you
  • Try to keep the item medium sized. If too large might not be able to use for the session.
  • If the prop is large, plan ahead with me before the session
  • Make sure the object is clean and won’t make a mess on location


  • Bring a lot of props. The props are used to enhance, not take over
  • Bring something too large at the last minute
  • Bring something that will stain your clothes
  • Bring a prop that requires multiple people to set up
  • Bring a prop that requires AC power
  • Bring something that can’t easily travel with you


For a graduating senior session, parents/ support system are absolutely allowed! Photos with these special people will be towards the end of the session. For all other types of sessions, please check with me before inviting guests.

Unless a part of the group/family to be photographed, additional guests present can tend to distract and take away from the session.

Can you bring your fur baby? YES! We’ll shoot with them at the beginning. Please make sure a family member/or friend they are familiar with can take them after there few minutes in the pawlight. Bring any treats or toys they like to help get their attention. Please plan in advance with me to bring the furbaby to the session – some locations may not be suitable for them.


To make sure you are fully prepared for your session, the night before be sure to have your outfit and any props fully planned and set out! De-wrinkle pieces by ironing, steaming, or throwing them in the dryer. I’ll send a text of any weather updates, location(s) notes and specifically where we will be meeting.

Make sure to get a good breakfast/lunch prior to! Hard to be happy on an empty stomach.

Expect to laugh and be directed into poses, as well as prompts. If it feels uncomfortable, know its ok and there’s a purpose. If I ask you to do a physically uncomfortable pose, let me know! I will never ask you to do anything I wouldn’t do myself.

I’m open to ideas, so be ready to have an impromptu field-trip! This is meant to be collaborative and reflective of you!


After the session you will get a few sneak peeks within 72 hours of your session. I’ll post to my social media (be sure to follow JFSM Productions if you aren’t already) and will also send them in your gallery. Feel free to reshare and download the teasers! I love seeing how and when you post, so feel free to tag me as well. With you sneaks, I’ll also send a feedback survey. I wanna know your honest thoughts and experience! Your full gallery will be delivered in 2-4 weeks. I’ll give you an estimated day when I deliver your sneaks.

From your gallery you will be able to share on social media directly, download, and even purchase prints, wall art, and even a personalized calendar or thank you/announcement cards! You can also share with family and friends to see images for themselves. Don’t worry you can pick and choose which images they can see!

I hope this guide helps prepare you for the best session! If you have a question, you don’t see answered, leave a comment or send me an email!


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